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Agriculture, Volume 9, Issue 3 (March 2019)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Typical wild blueberry field in early spring from Northern Lac Saint-Jean [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Sowing Date Affects Maize Development and Yield in Irrigated Mediterranean Environments
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030067 - 26 Mar 2019
Viewed by 856
Abstract
Timely sowing is critical for maximizing yield for both grain and biomass in maize. The effects of early (mid-March), normal (mid-April), and late (mid-May) sowing date (SD) were studied over a three-year period in irrigated maize under Mediterranean conditions. Early SD increased the [...] Read more.
Timely sowing is critical for maximizing yield for both grain and biomass in maize. The effects of early (mid-March), normal (mid-April), and late (mid-May) sowing date (SD) were studied over a three-year period in irrigated maize under Mediterranean conditions. Early SD increased the number of days from sowing to plant emergence. Late SD reduced the number of days to plant maturity, and had higher forage yields, higher grain humidity, and taller plants. The average grain and forage yields achieved were 13.2 and 21.3 Mg ha−1; 14.0 and 25.1 Mg ha−1; and 12.8 and 27.6 Mg ha−1, for crops with early, normal, and late SD, respectively. The data support the general perception of farmers that April sowings are the most appropriate in the area where the experiments were carried out. Early SD resulted in lower population densities, while later SD did not yield (grain) as high. However, late SD produced taller plants that contributed to achieve higher forage yields. Late SD could be interesting for double annual forage cropping systems. Sowing at the most appropriate time, when the soil is warm, ensures a good level of maize grain production. Future research could focus in the effect of SD for total annual yields in double-annual cropping systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quality and Production of Forage)
Open AccessArticle
Identification of Suitable Animal Welfare Assessment Measures for Extensive Beef Systems in New Zealand
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030066 - 25 Mar 2019
Viewed by 608
Abstract
Farm animal welfare assessment protocols use different measures depending on production systems and the purpose of the assessment. There is no standardized validated animal welfare protocol for the assessment of beef cattle farms in New Zealand, despite the importance of beef exports to [...] Read more.
Farm animal welfare assessment protocols use different measures depending on production systems and the purpose of the assessment. There is no standardized validated animal welfare protocol for the assessment of beef cattle farms in New Zealand, despite the importance of beef exports to the country. The aim of this study was therefore to identify welfare measures that would be suitable for an animal welfare assessment protocol for use in extensive pasture-based cow–calf beef cattle systems in New Zealand. The proposed animal welfare assessment measures were selected from the Welfare Quality protocol and the rangeland-based UC Davis Cow–Calf Health and Handling assessment protocol. Measures that were deemed impractical and/or unsuitable were excluded from the protocol. After testing the applicability of selected measures at one farm, additional measures that were deemed to be practical to undertake in New Zealand were identified and incorporated into the protocol. The intention was to identify animal welfare indicators that were assessable in the yard during a single farm visit, a questionnaire guided interview, and a farm resource assessment visit that evaluated cattle health and management. Further testing of the 50 measures that were identified as being appropriate will be undertaken on commercial beef farms to develop a practicable welfare protocol for extensive pasture-based beef systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ethology and Animal Welfare)
Open AccessArticle
Organo-Mineral Fertilization Enhances the Acceptability of Smooth Cayenne Pineapple Fruit (Ananas comosus (L.) Merrill) for European Export and Domestic Consumption in Benin
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030065 - 25 Mar 2019
Viewed by 706
Abstract
Heterogeneity in pineapple fruit quality explains the low export volume of fruits from Benin to the international market. This work aims to investigate influences of organo-mineral fertilizer on a) pineapple fruit yield, b) fruit quality and the proportion of fruits meeting European export [...] Read more.
Heterogeneity in pineapple fruit quality explains the low export volume of fruits from Benin to the international market. This work aims to investigate influences of organo-mineral fertilizer on a) pineapple fruit yield, b) fruit quality and the proportion of fruits meeting European export standards, and c) fresh fruit acceptability for domestic consumption. The experimental design is a split-plot with three replications where the main factor is organic manure (poultry litter) (P0 = 0 t ha−1, P1 = 5 t ha−1, P2 = 10 t ha−1) and the sub-plot factor, N-P-K fertilization in kg ha−1 (T0:100-30-150, T1: 200-60-300, T2: 400-120-600, and T3: 600-180-900). To evaluate the percentage of fruit meeting European standards, a generalized linear model with binomial error structures was used. A sensorial test was carried out on fresh pulp to assess the preference of fruit meeting domestic criterion. A preference mapping was assessed through an acceptability test with a nine-point hedonic scale. Organo-mineral fertilizer significantly improved fruit weight (p = 0.012), fresh juice weight (p = 0.042), total soluble solids (p = 0.032), and the percentage of fruits meeting European standards (p < 0.001). Better fruits meeting export standards were found with treatments P1T1, P2T0, and P2T3 (83.33 ± 28.87%). Fruits from treatments P0T2, P2T1, P1T3, and P2T2 were highly accepted for domestic consumption (70%). The results suggested that organo-fertilizer producing fruit achieving exportation standards may differ from those satisfying domestic preferences. Moreover, the findings suggested that the ratio crown length: fruit length, which is a key ratio for exportation standards, is not related to physico-chemical quality. Finally, the findings have implications for the sustainability of pineapple production for domestic and exportation purposes. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Beyond Bird Feed: Proso Millet for Human Health and Environment
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030064 - 24 Mar 2019
Viewed by 1207
Abstract
Domesticated in 8000–10,000 BP in northern China, proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) is the best adaptive rotational crop for semiarid central High Plains of the USA, where average annual precipitation is 356–407 mm. Proso millet has multiple benefits when consumed as human [...] Read more.
Domesticated in 8000–10,000 BP in northern China, proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) is the best adaptive rotational crop for semiarid central High Plains of the USA, where average annual precipitation is 356–407 mm. Proso millet has multiple benefits when consumed as human food. Proso millet is rich in minerals, dietary fiber, polyphenols, vitamins and proteins. It is gluten-free and therefore, ideal for the gluten intolerant people. Proso millet contains high lecithin which supports the neural health system. It is rich in vitamins (niacin, B-complex vitamins, folic acid), minerals (P, Ca, Zn, Fe) and essential amino acids (methionine and cysteine). It has a low glycemic index and reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes. Unfortunately, in the USA, it is mostly considered as bird feed, whereas it is mainly used as human food in many other countries. Besides human health benefits, proso millet has an impeccable environmental benefit. Proso millet possesses many unique characteristics (e.g., drought tolerance, short-growing season) which makes it a promising rotational crop for winter wheat-based dryland farming systems. Proso millet provides the most economical production system when used in a two years wheat/summer fallow cropping system in semiarid High Plains of the USA. It helps in controlling winter annual grass weeds, managing disease and insect pressure and preserving deep soil moisture for wheat. Proso millet can also be used as a rotational crop with corn or sorghum owing to its tolerance for atrazine, the primary herbicide used in corn and sorghum production systems. Proso millet certainly is a climate-smart, gluten-free, ancient, and small grain cereal, which is healthy to humans and the environment. The main challenge is to expand the proso millet market beyond bird feed into the human food industry. To overcome the challenge, unique proso millet varieties for human food and ready-to-use multiple food products must be developed. This requires successful collaboration among experts from diverse disciplines such as breeders, geneticists, food chemists and food industry partners. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Foliar Calcium Corrects a Deficiency Causing Green Fruit Drop in ‘Draper’ Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.)
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030063 - 24 Mar 2019
Viewed by 628
Abstract
‘Draper’ northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) is a widely-planted mid-season cultivar with excellent fruit quality. Under the climatic conditions of Southwestern British Columbia, Canada, and Northwestern Washington, USA, it expresses a physiological disorder causing spontaneous green fruit drop (GFD) of up [...] Read more.
‘Draper’ northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) is a widely-planted mid-season cultivar with excellent fruit quality. Under the climatic conditions of Southwestern British Columbia, Canada, and Northwestern Washington, USA, it expresses a physiological disorder causing spontaneous green fruit drop (GFD) of up to half of the developing crop just prior to onset of the fruit coloring phenophase. Reduction of economic losses due to GFD required identification of the cause of this disorder and development of an agronomic solution that would reduce fruit drop. In 2014, two initial experiments were conducted to compare three foliar Ca products under a range of N fertilization rates. In 2015 and 2016, three locations were used in a first step to optimizing rates and timings of foliar Ca application. Initial experiments determined that higher N fertilization rates exacerbate GFD but that foliar Ca corrects the condition. Multi-site, multi-year trials identified key rates and timings for foliar Ca application to provide an agronomic solution for commercial growers. These trials identified an acute fruit Ca deficiency as the cause of GFD, and that foliar calcium applied frequently at high concentration from mid-bloom onward can be effective in reducing GFD, often to negligible levels. This condition has now been reported in several production regions around the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Horticultural Practices for Berry Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Tillage Systems on Physical Properties of a Clay Loam Soil under Oats
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030062 - 23 Mar 2019
Viewed by 638
Abstract
In many regions, conservation tillage has been shown to contribute to preserving soil properties. However, in order to promote this practice in new areas, it is necessary to generate information about its results in local environmental conditions. Our objective was to study the [...] Read more.
In many regions, conservation tillage has been shown to contribute to preserving soil properties. However, in order to promote this practice in new areas, it is necessary to generate information about its results in local environmental conditions. Our objective was to study the effect of No Tillage (NT), Vertical Tillage (VT) and Conventional Tillage (CT) on physical soil properties of a clay loam soil and on yields (Avena sativa L.), in a semiarid area of Mexico. From 2013 to 2016 an experiment was conducted in random blocks, with the three tillage systems as treatments. Four variables were measured; bulk density (Bd), pore space (P), hydraulic conductivity (Ks) and crop yield. Our results did show scarce differences between the tillage systems. Values ranged between 1.21 g cm−3 to 1.39 g cm−3 for Bd, 45% to 55% for P, and 4.29 mm h−1 to 13.61 mm h−1 for Ks. Although differences were not significant among treatments, Bd decreased 6.7% for CT, 5.6% for NT and 0.7% for VT. P increased 6% for CT, 5% for NT and 0.5% for VT. Ks for CT decreased 6% more than for NT and VT. Average yield was 13% less in NT compared to CT and VT. A long-term investigation is needed in order to determine the effects of tillage methods, in our particular environmental conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Competitiveness of Agricultural Products in the Eurasian Economic Union
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030061 - 21 Mar 2019
Viewed by 663
Abstract
This article discusses the outcomes of a quantitative analysis using econometric panel data models of the competitiveness of grains in the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The analysis was based on the public authorities’ statistics of EAEU countries as well as [...] Read more.
This article discusses the outcomes of a quantitative analysis using econometric panel data models of the competitiveness of grains in the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The analysis was based on the public authorities’ statistics of EAEU countries as well as the United Nations Comtrade Database, which is a repository of official international trade statistics. The results of the analysis allowed us to assess the level of competitiveness of the agricultural products produced in EAEU countries and to determine the extent to which various factors affect the competitiveness. The research conclusions can be used to develop and adjust the agricultural policy in the EAEU. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Farmers’ Access to Agricultural Information: Evidence from Semi-Arid Region of Rajasthan State, India
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030060 - 21 Mar 2019
Viewed by 835
Abstract
The rural farmers in western Rajasthan State are uneducated and most of the applications of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) are demonstrated and run in the English Language. The majority of these rural farmers who are illiterates with a very low level of [...] Read more.
The rural farmers in western Rajasthan State are uneducated and most of the applications of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) are demonstrated and run in the English Language. The majority of these rural farmers who are illiterates with a very low level of understanding of the English Language find it difficult to take advantage of the availability of ICT to facilitate their access to information for their farm businesses. This study examined the role of ICT in enhancing the farmers’ access to production and marketing information in western Rajasthan State in India. Primary data was collected from 133 farmers consisting of 71 ICT users and 62 Non-ICT users through questionnaire administration. The results of the Analysis of Variance test regarding the farmers’ access to different types of production and marketing information revealed that the user type (i.e., ICT versus Non-ICT user) significantly explains the differences in farmers’ access to the different types of marketing and production information. These results are consistent with the empirical results of the student’s t-test that farmers’ access to different types of production and marketing information from ICT sources is significantly higher than from Non-ICT sources. Consistently, the empirical results of the multiple regressions revealed that the percentage of production and marketing information obtained from ICT sources had positive significant influence on the farmers’ access to marketing and production information; and that the percentage of marketing and production information obtained from Non-ICT sources had negative significant influence on the farmers’ access to marketing and production information. These results suggest that ICT sources of marketing and production information play a crucial role in the farmers’ access to this information for their business operations. The implication is that proper education and training of farmers (especially the female farmers) about the utilization of ICT sources to accelerate access to information is crucial. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The (Evolving) Vineyard’s Age Structure in the Valencian Community, Spain: A New Demographic Approach for Rural Development and Landscape Analysis
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030059 - 20 Mar 2019
Viewed by 563
Abstract
Vineyards have assumed a key role as rural landmarks in recent decades. Investigating vineyard dynamics and contexts may reveal various economic, cultural, and environmental aspects of rural landscapes, which can be linked to land-use changes and major soil degradation processes, including soil erosion. [...] Read more.
Vineyards have assumed a key role as rural landmarks in recent decades. Investigating vineyard dynamics and contexts may reveal various economic, cultural, and environmental aspects of rural landscapes, which can be linked to land-use changes and major soil degradation processes, including soil erosion. As a contribution to rural landscape studies, the purpose of this work is to investigate the spatial distribution of vineyard plots in the Valencian community, located in the eastern area of the Iberian Peninsula, focusing on the final product, the type of vineyard and how long each vineyard has been settled over time. The work provides a comprehensive analysis of a wine-growing landscape, considering strategic (spatial) assets in present and past times. Vineyards were interpreted as a distinctive landmarks that give value to local economies; basic knowledge of how long different types of wine plots have been present in the Valencian community is useful when estimating their degree of sustainability and formulating suggestions, policies, and strategies to prevent processes of landscape degradation at various spatial scales. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Land Use Changes on Soil and Vegetation Characteristics in Fereydan, Iran
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030058 - 20 Mar 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 604
Abstract
To understand and manage ecosystem complexity, it is important to determine the relationships between soil characteristics, human activities, and biodiversity. This study analyzes the relationships between vegetation, soil, and man-made damage with regards to land use change in the Fereydan region, Iran. Soil [...] Read more.
To understand and manage ecosystem complexity, it is important to determine the relationships between soil characteristics, human activities, and biodiversity. This study analyzes the relationships between vegetation, soil, and man-made damage with regards to land use change in the Fereydan region, Iran. Soil physical properties such as sand and silt content, clay, saturated soil’s moisture content, and gravel percentage as well as chemical properties such as lime content, pH, electro conductivity (EC), and organic matter content were measured. In order to trace these variables, the principle component analysis (PCA) was applied. The study area was divided into three states of conditions; i.e., good condition rangelands, poor condition rangelands, and abandoned rain-fed area. Based on the results there was a significant difference between species diversity in good condition rangelands compared with two other sites. The results further revealed that among soil chemical and physical characteristics, only soil organic matter had a significant difference between different rangeland sites. According to the results, the rangelands with good conditions had the highest amount of organic matter (1.43–1.50%) compared with two other studied rangelands (poor conditions: 1.02–1.09%; abandoned rain-fed: 1.2–1.46%). The most influential factor on the species diversity index was the distance to village parameter that revealed the important role of humans in degrading rangelands and reducing species diversity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Application of Remotely Sensed Imagery and Socioeconomic Surveys to Map Crop Choices in the Bekaa Valley (Lebanon)
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030057 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 828
Abstract
Based on remotely sensed imagery and socioeconomic data, this research analyzes the reasons why farmers choose one crop over another in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. This study mapped the area of the cultivated crop in 2017 with Sentinel-2 images. An accurate and [...] Read more.
Based on remotely sensed imagery and socioeconomic data, this research analyzes the reasons why farmers choose one crop over another in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. This study mapped the area of the cultivated crop in 2017 with Sentinel-2 images. An accurate and new method was developed to extract the field boundaries from the evolution of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) profile throughout the season. We collected 386 GPS locations for fields that are used for crop cultivation, from which the NDVI profile was extracted. The 386 reference fields were separated into two groups: reference locations and test locations. The Euclidean distance (ED) was calculated between these two groups, and the classification was strongly correlated to the known crop type in the field (overall accuracy: 90%). Our study area cultivated wheat (32%), spring potatoes (25%), spring vegetables (27%), orchards (11%), vineyards (7%), and alfalfa (<1%). Socioeconomic surveys showed that farmers favored these crops over others on account of their profitability. Nonetheless, the surveys highlighted a paradox: despite the lack of a political frame for agriculture in Lebanon, farmers’ crop choices strongly depend on a few existing policies. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Effects of Soil pH and Fertilizers on Haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.) Vegetative Growth
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030056 - 16 Mar 2019
Viewed by 864
Abstract
Haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.) is a new northern latitude fruit crop that is increasing in popularity. This sudden enthusiasm for haskap increases the need for obtaining baseline knowledge related to establishing it as a crop, such as its optimal soil pH and [...] Read more.
Haskap (Lonicera caerulea L.) is a new northern latitude fruit crop that is increasing in popularity. This sudden enthusiasm for haskap increases the need for obtaining baseline knowledge related to establishing it as a crop, such as its optimal soil pH and fertilizer needs. In a greenhouse, one-year-old haskap plants (cultivar: Indigo Treat©) were grown in a local loamy sand. We assessed the impact of pH and fertilizer on haskap vegetative growth through an experiment involving four soil pH and five fertilization treatments of three N sources (ammonium, nitrate, and organic (chicken manure)). Leaf senescence as well as above-ground and root biomass were recorded after 19 weeks of vegetative growth. For cultivar Indigo Treat©, optimal vegetative growth was observed under slightly acidic soil conditions (pHCaCl2 5.5–6 or pHwater 5.9–6.5) without application of N. Phosphorus and K fertilizers did not influence vegetative growth. We here discuss the implications for establishing haskap orchards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue North American Native Food Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Technical Note: Regression Analysis of Proximal Hyperspectral Data to Predict Soil pH and Olsen P
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030055 - 15 Mar 2019
Viewed by 660
Abstract
This work examines two large data sets to demonstrate that hyperspectral proximal devices may be able to measure soil nutrient. One data set has 3189 soil samples from four hill country pastoral farms and the second data set has 883 soil samples taken [...] Read more.
This work examines two large data sets to demonstrate that hyperspectral proximal devices may be able to measure soil nutrient. One data set has 3189 soil samples from four hill country pastoral farms and the second data set has 883 soil samples taken from a stratified nested grid survey. These were regressed with spectra from a proximal hyperspectral device measured on the same samples. This aim was to obtain wavelengths, which may be proxy indicators for measurements of soil nutrients. Olsen P and pH were regressed with 2150 wave bands between 350 nm and 2500 nm to find wavebands, which were significant indicators. The 100 most significant wavebands for each proxy were used to regress both data sets. The regression equations from the smaller data set were used to predict the values of pH and Olsen P to validate the larger data set. The predictions from the equations from the smaller data set were as good as the regression analyses from the large data set when applied to it. This may mean that, in the future, hyperspectral analysis may be a proxy to soil chemical analysis; or increase the intensity of soil testing by finding markers of fertility cheaply in the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility)
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Open AccessArticle
Toward Precision in Crop Yield Estimation Using Remote Sensing and Optimization Techniques
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030054 - 13 Mar 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 749
Abstract
Many crop yield estimation techniques are being used, however the most effective one is based on using geospatial data and technologies such as remote sensing. However, the remote sensing data which are needed to estimate crop yield are insufficient most of the time [...] Read more.
Many crop yield estimation techniques are being used, however the most effective one is based on using geospatial data and technologies such as remote sensing. However, the remote sensing data which are needed to estimate crop yield are insufficient most of the time due to many problems such as climate conditions (% of clouds), and low temporal resolution. There have been many attempts to solve the lack of data problem using very high temporal and very low spatial resolution images such as Modis. Although this type of image can compensate for the lack of data due to climate problems, they are only suitable for very large homogeneous crop fields. To compensate for the lack of high spatial resolution remote sensing images due to climate conditions, a new optimization model was created. Crop yield estimation is improved and its precision is increased based on the new model that includes the use of the energy balance equation. To verify the results of the crop yield estimation based on the new model, information from local farmers about their potato crop yields for the same year were collected. The comparison between the estimated crop yields and the actual production in different fields proves the efficiency of the new optimization model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Precision Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Conservation Adoption Among Owners and Tenant Farmers in the Southern United States
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030053 - 12 Mar 2019
Viewed by 544
Abstract
This study investigates owner and tenant characteristics and differences between these two groups in their participation in federal conservation initiatives. Bivariate probit model analysis, based on a 2016–2017 Louisiana row-crop producer’s survey show that owners, relative to tenant farmers, are more likely to [...] Read more.
This study investigates owner and tenant characteristics and differences between these two groups in their participation in federal conservation initiatives. Bivariate probit model analysis, based on a 2016–2017 Louisiana row-crop producer’s survey show that owners, relative to tenant farmers, are more likely to adopt conservation in early years of ownership. The results emphasize the need for mechanisms for tenants in short-term contracts to invest in long-term conservation. Moreover, conservation initiatives should be tailored, as tenant farmers are increasingly farming more land and policies should carefully account for this growing group of farmers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture)
Open AccessCommunication
Apatite Stimulates the Deposition of Glomalin-Related Soil Protein in a Lowbush Blueberry Commercial Field
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030052 - 08 Mar 2019
Viewed by 766
Abstract
Many wind-sensitive and unproductive soils could benefit from increased glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP), an operationally defined soil protein pool known to improve soil quality and nutrient storage. We expect at least part of this GRSP fraction to originate from fungal biomass. Although P-rich [...] Read more.
Many wind-sensitive and unproductive soils could benefit from increased glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP), an operationally defined soil protein pool known to improve soil quality and nutrient storage. We expect at least part of this GRSP fraction to originate from fungal biomass. Although P-rich minerals such as apatite are known to increase C allocation from plants to mycorrhizal fungi, there are no studies directly linking apatite with GRSP. We investigated the effect of apatite on GRSP deposition rates in a cultivated field of wild lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton; Vaccinium myrtilloides Michx.) in the Saguenay‒Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec (Canada). A field incubation technique (145 days) using sterilized porous sand bags (50 µm pores) was used to measure in situ easily extractable GRSP (EE-GRSP) deposition rates from bags with (n = 10) and without (n = 10) apatite. Half of the bags (n = 10) were also soaked in Proline® 480 SC (Bayer CropScience, Calgary, Alberta, Canada) (Prothioconazole) to determine if EE-GRSP deposition rates were affected by this commonly applied fungicide. Our results indicated that adding apatite into sand bags significantly increased (+70%) EE-GRSP deposition rates, whereas soaking the bags in fungicide had no significant effect. Although the direct linkage between GRSP and lowbush blueberry plants remains to be detailed, our study reports for the first time GRSP concentrations from lowbush blueberry soils. Implications of these findings are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue North American Native Food Crops)
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Open AccessArticle
Inoculation with Mycorrhizal Fungi and Other Microbes to Improve the Morpho-Physiological and Floral Traits of Gazania rigens (L.) Gaertn
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030051 - 08 Mar 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 832
Abstract
In the present analysis, we evaluated the effect of different microbial inoculants on growth and floral responses of Gazania rigens (L.) Gaertn. Two prevailing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) i.e., Funelliformis mosseae and Acaulospora laevis, along with Trichoderma viride and Pseudomonas fluorescens, [...] Read more.
In the present analysis, we evaluated the effect of different microbial inoculants on growth and floral responses of Gazania rigens (L.) Gaertn. Two prevailing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) i.e., Funelliformis mosseae and Acaulospora laevis, along with Trichoderma viride and Pseudomonas fluorescens, were examined in a pot experiment. Independent roles of these four microbes and their different combinations were used in sixteen treatments of G. rigens. The experiment was conducted in a polyhouse with five replicates per treatment in a randomized complete block design. The results of microbial inoculants were very effective for growth yield and flowering response over the control. Early flowering was noted in the combination of F. mosseae, A. laevis and P. fluorescens, which also showed the best results for flower head size, flower fresh and dry weight, total chlorophyll, carotene and phosphorus content. Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) root colonization (%) and AM spore number were also the highest for the same treatment, whereas the number of leaves, number of buds and root length were maximum in the combined treatment (F. mosseae + A. laevis + T. viride + P. fluorescens). Overall, this study proposes that growers should consider microbial inoculants for the better yield and flower quality of G. rigens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant-Microbe Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle
Ommatissus lybicus Infestation in Relation to Spatial Characteristics of Date Palm Plantations in Oman
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030050 - 08 Mar 2019
Viewed by 518
Abstract
The agricultural ecosystem and its interaction with the outside environment plays a major role in the population of herbivores. The infestation of the Dubas bug, Ommatissus lybicus, has shown a spatial and temporal variation among different date palm plantations in Oman. This [...] Read more.
The agricultural ecosystem and its interaction with the outside environment plays a major role in the population of herbivores. The infestation of the Dubas bug, Ommatissus lybicus, has shown a spatial and temporal variation among different date palm plantations in Oman. This study focused on the relationship of infestation with date palm cultivation environments. The infestation and some selected environmental factors were evaluated in 20 locations for four consecutive infestation seasons over two years. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression was used to identify the significant factors and the global relationship. Geographically weighted regression (GWR) was used to determine the spatial relationship. The results showed that GWR had better prediction than OLS. The model explained 61% of the infestation variation in the studied locations. The most significant coefficient was the tree planting pattern, the trees planted in uneven rows and columns (irregular pattern) had a positive effect; the infestation increased as the irregularity increased due to an increase in tree density. This reduced the interaction of harsh outside weather with the date palm plantation microclimate. The proportion of side growing area had a negative effect on insect population; as the percentage of side growing area increased as the infestation decreased, assuming the side growing crops hosted natural enemies. The study concluded that the variation of spatial and temporal infestation was primarily due to the variation of the cultural practices and spatial environment of the date palm plantations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Current Situation and Sustainable Development of Rice Cultivation and Production in Afghanistan
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030049 - 07 Mar 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1251
Abstract
Poverty is a critical issue that is stagnating the development of Afghanistan. In 2007, more than 42% of the population of the country was reported as being below the poverty line, but until 2014, 78.2% of households even in the urban areas were [...] Read more.
Poverty is a critical issue that is stagnating the development of Afghanistan. In 2007, more than 42% of the population of the country was reported as being below the poverty line, but until 2014, 78.2% of households even in the urban areas were still dealing with food shortages. The agriculture sector is the backbone of the country’s economy and contributes as the key sector to the revival of the well-being of people in Afghanistan. Rice is the second staple crop after wheat and plays a key role in food security, nutrition, and caloric intake. However, Afghan farmers have suffered from the low quality of grains and yield which has resulted in the serious malnutrition which is occurring in the country. Insufficient breeding techniques for new rice cultivars with high yield and acceptable quality, mismanagement of agronomical practices, and unprogressive milling and processing thus can satisfy only 50% of the country’s demand. Accordingly, Afghanistan has been compelled to import a huge annual amount of milled rice from Pakistan, India, and Iran. Although active efforts have been made by the government, research institutes, and international collaboration on rice research, production, and agricultural credits during the last 10 years, the deficit of milled rice in Afghanistan in 2018 is estimated to be 270,250 metric tons. This paper highlights the current situation of rice production in Afghanistan and suggests solutions for food security and sustainability in rice production to promote farmers’ income, consequently strengthening the country’s economy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Agricultural Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of Major Farming Systems: A Case Study in Yayo Coffee Forest Biosphere Reserve, Southwestern Ethiopia
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030048 - 07 Mar 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 856
Abstract
Farming systems, with their concerns of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and productivity and production issues towards progress in human needs, wellbeing, and sustainable development, are challenging in most biosphere reserves. In this study, we assess the levels and trends of the agro-biodiversity and ecosystem [...] Read more.
Farming systems, with their concerns of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and productivity and production issues towards progress in human needs, wellbeing, and sustainable development, are challenging in most biosphere reserves. In this study, we assess the levels and trends of the agro-biodiversity and ecosystem services of different farming systems in the Yayo Biosphere Reserve in Ethiopia. Interviews with a total of 120 farmers, 16 key informants, and 12 focal group discussions (FDGs) were conducted, and species composition was assessed based on data collected on ten plots per major farming system. Result indicate that four farming systems, namely homegardens (HG), plantation coffee (PC), semi-forest coffee (SFC), and annual crop production (CP) systems, can be identified. Shannon and Evenness indices were highest in the HG system (H′ = 3.14, E = 0.8), and lowest in the CP system (H′ = 0.71, E = 0.18). Additionally, more diversified and relatively less cultivated farming systems provide more ecosystem services, and land users tend to practice less diversified farming systems in order to increase food supply at the expense of other ecosystem services. Therefore, this study recommends that diversified farming systems need to be considered to conserve or enhance specific ecosystem services in ways that reduce their negative tradeoffs. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Biodiversity of Vegetable Crops, A Living Heritage
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030047 - 06 Mar 2019
Viewed by 780
Abstract
Biodiversity is the natural heritage of the planet and is one of the key factors of sustainable development, due to its importance not only for the environmental aspects of sustainability but also for the social and economic ones. The purpose of this Special [...] Read more.
Biodiversity is the natural heritage of the planet and is one of the key factors of sustainable development, due to its importance not only for the environmental aspects of sustainability but also for the social and economic ones. The purpose of this Special Issue is to publish high-quality research papers addressing recent progress and perspectives while focusing on different aspects related to the biodiversity of vegetable crops. Original, high-quality contributions that have not yet been published, or that are not currently under review by other journals, have been gathered. A broad range of aspects such as genetic, crop production, environments, customs and traditions were covered. All contributions are of significant relevance and could stimulate further research in this area. Full article
Open AccessPerspective
Date Palm Status and Perspective in Mexico
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030046 - 05 Mar 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 974
Abstract
The Date palm (Phoenix dactilifera L.) was introduced to Mexico during the Spanish colonization, but its commercial production did not develop until the second half of the past century. A literature and field research, including a trip to the oases missions and [...] Read more.
The Date palm (Phoenix dactilifera L.) was introduced to Mexico during the Spanish colonization, but its commercial production did not develop until the second half of the past century. A literature and field research, including a trip to the oases missions and main commercial production areas, allowed us to identify the actual status for this crop in Mexico. While the date culture in the old oases is fading, in the commercial production zones it is in active development. San Luis Rio Colorado and Mexicali Valley region, comprise 97% of the commercial crop production area of the country. The main cultivar is Medjool with 94% of the growing area; actual yields are around 7.9 ton/ha. Ongoing government support and motivated growers training will lead to the application of better crop practices. It is expected to increase yields around 10 ton/ha in the next 5 years. Commercial date production is focused on exports, the internal market is growing, as well as the transformation of the product. Knowledge of the actual trends of the crop will allow to understand their historic importance and its future potential as a commodity and food. Production practices, competitive advantages and research results are presented. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Unlocking the Agricultural Potential of Manure in Agropastoral Systems: Traditional Beliefs Hindering Its Use in Southern Ethiopia
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030045 - 04 Mar 2019
Viewed by 549
Abstract
Manure is often considered a valuable resource for improving productivity in semi-arid tropics. This paper investigated agropastoralist knowledge of the use of manure and barriers that limit manure use in Borana, southern Ethiopia. The potential and actual amounts of manure available on-farm and [...] Read more.
Manure is often considered a valuable resource for improving productivity in semi-arid tropics. This paper investigated agropastoralist knowledge of the use of manure and barriers that limit manure use in Borana, southern Ethiopia. The potential and actual amounts of manure available on-farm and its relative economic value were estimated. Yield response to manure application was also quantified. Data was gathered using on-farm surveys, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, field observation and on-farm experiments. We found that an enormous amount of manure with substantial fertilizer value and economic benefit had accumulated over the years in studied households in Borana. Our analysis revealed that, on average, more than 74 tons of manure containing 667 kg nitrogen (N)–more than five times the current requirements–had accumulated per farm. This manure has an economic value, in terms of N supply, equivalent to ETB (Ethiopian Birr) 16452 (US$802). On-farm trials showed that a considerable scope exists for increasing the yields of these marginal lands by using manure. However, because of the traditional beliefs and associated practices, which have prevailed for centuries in the community, this valuable resource is left unused. Having identified the link between traditional beliefs and non-use of manure, the paper sets out possible areas for intervention. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Regional Evaluation of Fungal Pathogen Incidence in Colombian Cocoa Crops
Agriculture 2019, 9(3), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030044 - 04 Mar 2019
Viewed by 797
Abstract
The production of cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) in Colombia has a significant environmental and socioeconomic importance as a promissory crop in the post-conflict process. The department of Norte de Santander has cocoa crops that are dramatically affected by fungal pathogens causing important [...] Read more.
The production of cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) in Colombia has a significant environmental and socioeconomic importance as a promissory crop in the post-conflict process. The department of Norte de Santander has cocoa crops that are dramatically affected by fungal pathogens causing important losses during harvest and post-harvest. Therefore, the current study focused on the determination of the incidence of diseases caused by phytopathogenic fungi in cocoa crops, and the identification of primary phytopathogenic fungi found in biological material from different farms of the region. The study was conducted in four municipalities of the department, by sampling fruits infected with frosty pod rot (FPR) and black pod rot (BPR) that presented in situ incidence ranging from 0.37 to 21.58% and from 1.75 to 35.59%, respectively. The studied hybrid materials, together with clone TSH 65, were found to be the most susceptible, while the remaining clones were more tolerant, especially CCN 51, IMC 67, and ICS95. Fifteen strains were isolated using in vitro assays and then morphologically characterized both in solid media and by microscopy. Nine of them corresponded to the pathogen Moniliophthora roreri, and other six to Phytophthora palmivora. The isolated agents showed in vitro morphological variability, as well as the ability to adapt to different environments when growing in situ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant-Microbe Interactions)
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